Andy Murray drops hint that he will play at Wimbledon

Scottish player will play at Eastbourne next week as he continues his comeback

Andy Murray will play at Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon. Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Andy Murray will play at Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon. Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

 

Andy Murray confirmed on Friday that he will play at Eastbourne next week, a decent hint he will continue his comeback at Wimbledon the week after that.

Murray returned to the Tour at Queen’s on Tuesday after 11 months out with a hip injury, losing in three tight sets to Nick Kyrgios. The former world No 1, who has slipped outside 150 in the world for the first time in 13 years while recuperating from surgery in January, surprised everyone by the quality of his ball-striking against a difficult opponent, although he admitted he was unsure if he was ready to play a best-of-five match.

Murray has still not committed to playing at Wimbledon, which starts on Monday week, although it is highly likely he will. There would be little point in testing himself on the grass of Eastbourne otherwise. While those matches are best-of-three, they will still provide the 31-year-old with a stiff test of his mobility and stamina on his favourite surface.

“At the end of the match I was certainly tired, but it wasn’t like I was completely off my feet,” Murray said after Kyrgios beat him 2-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 in two hours and 39 minutes. He came desperately close to winning against an opponent eight years younger and who was returning from injury himself, but serving with venom.

Kyrgios, who lost in a third-set tie-break to Roger Federer in the Stuttgart semi-finals on Saturday, went on from his Murray win to put the British No 1 Kyle Edmund out of the Fever-Tree championships in three sets on Thursday.

On Friday he beat the defending champion, Feliciano López, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), to book a place in Saturday’s semi-finals against the No1 seed and 2012 champion, Marin Cilic, who earlier beat the fifth seed Sam Querrey 7-6 (3), 6-2.

“Murray said before his comeback match he had, “zero expectations” and he certainly exceeded those. But he is the ultimate realist. There is still a chance he will not make it to Wimbledon if his body does not recover the way he would like. As he said after losing to Kyrgios, ‘I won’t rule anything out. I won’t rule out playing Eastbourne and not playing Wimbledon. I wouldn’t rule out not playing a tournament next week and trying to get matches like in an exhibition tournament, as well, to get ready for Wimbledon.”

There is a chance that, if he lost early in the Nature Valley International at Eastbourne, he could finish any proposed preparation at the Hurlingham Club in London.

Murray limped out of Wimbledon on day nine last year after losing in five sets in the quarter-finals to Sam Querrey, then made late withdrawals from the US Open, the Brisbane Open and the Australian Open. He had planned to comeback on the grass of Rosmalen in Holland the week after the French Open, but again changed his mind at the last minute.

Murray left it late to play at Queen’s also, but seemed happy with his form and general fitness. He has already committed to play in Washington in August and Shenzhen in September, so it would appear he is also aiming at this year’s US Open, the scene of his first major, six years ago.

But grass is where the two-time Wimbledon champion feels most comfortable, which is why he is making every effort to be as ready as he can for Wimbledon, where he also won an Olympic gold medal, along with silver in the mixed doubles with Laura Robson.

Speaking of Wimbledon, Dan Evans will play Jack Findel-Hawkins on Friday afternoon after his straight-sets victory over friend Marcus Willis in the second round of Wimbledon pre-qualifying.

The 28-year-old edged a competitive affair 7-6, 7-6 against Willis at Southlands College near the All England Club.

The match with Findel-Hawkins represents another all-British contest. Evans has missed out on a Wimbledon wild card, and is in the early stages of his return to tennis after being banned last year for a doping offence. – Guardian service

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